The use of violence and the killing of demonstrators to disperse ongoing protests in Guinea entrenches impunity and is a major setback for the fragile transition, global civil society alliance CIVICUS said today. Human rights groups report that at least five people were killed and several injured as the armed forces in Guinea used violence to disperse protesters on 28 and 29 July 2022.
The protests were called by the Front National pour la Défense de la Constitution (FNDC) - a coalition of political parties, civil society groups and trade unions to demand for more transparency in Guinea's current transition and the establishment of an inclusive framework for dialogue.
Following the protests, the authorities arrested human rights defenders Oumar Sylla, also known as Foniké Menguè and Ibrahima Diallo from the pro-democracy group Tournons la Page-Guinea (TLP) and FNDC and charged them with participation in a banned assembly, looting and destruction of property. Before the recent arrests several members of TLP and FNDC including Oumar Sylla were violently arrested on 5 July by the Repression of Banditry Brigade (BRB) while holding a press conference on the state of human rights and social and political situation in Guinea at the FNDC headquarters in Conakry, the capital. They were charged with contempt of court and disrespect for justice and later released.
The Guinean authorities continue to respond to calls for accountability for the political transition by using violence and arresting those leading these calls. Such actions endanger the transition which is vital for Guinea’s return to civilian rule and embolden impunity which breeds more violence, said David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead at CIVICUS.
On 13 May 22, Guinea’s transitional authority - the Comité national du rassemblement pour le développement (CNRD) imposed a blanket ban on protests in public spaces which are likely to undermine social peace until the start of campaigns leading to the elections. The ban was condemned by civil society groups and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights who called for the ban to be lifted. On 31 May, the CNRD maintained its decision on the ban. The ban and ongoing restrictions on peaceful protests are at variance with Guinea’s international human rights commitments and are against the African Commission’s Guidelines on freedom of association and peaceful assembly in Africa. The ban also violates the Junta’s Transitional Charter which guarantees freedom of association and assembly.
The authorities continue to use different tactics to silence civil society and the political opposition. On 8 August 2022, the Minister of Territorial Administration announced that transitional authorities had dissolved the FNDC on the grounds that it is a violent movement that uses minors in demonstrations even though the movement has never been recognised by the junta. Human rights groups remain concerned about the possibility of more violence in the coming days and months as the FNDC calls for more protests to demand for a credible dialogue and the release of activists arrested and detained during the most recent protests.
We call on the CNRD to:
- Reverse the blanket ban on all public demonstrations and restore the right to peaceful assembly
- Immediately release all activists and protesters arrested during demonstrations
In September 2021, Guinea’s special forces under Mamady Doumbouya detained President Alpha Conde, suspended the Constitution and dissolved the government and several state institutions. The junta established the Comite National du Rassemblement et du Développement (CNRD) as the transitional authority and outlined a roadmap to civilian rule in a transitional charter. The coup happened less than a year after President Conde won controversial presidential elections following a referendum that amended the Constitution in March 2020. In the aftermath of the coup, the junta continues to pre-empt and ban protests and violently repress them when they take place.
Guinea's state of civic freedoms is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.